CALLED “One of the finest conductors of his generation” by American maestro Robert Shaw, Alfred Calabrese enjoys a diverse career as conductor, educator, composer, scholar, and church musician. He has been director of choral activities at Southern Methodist University, Emory University, and Brevard College, a Visiting Professor at Indiana University, guest lecturer at the University of Notre Dame, the University of South Carolina, and the Conservatoire de Versailles, Gran Parc. Since 2006 he has been the Director of Music at Saint Rita Catholic Church in Dallas, TX, where he oversees a music program with six choirs, professional singers and organists, and five full staff members. In 2019 he created the St. Rita Choral Academy, a comprehensive choral school for children from kindergarten to eighth grade.
Calabrese holds the Master of Music and Doctor of Music degrees in Conducting from the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University where he studied with Jan Harrington and Robert Porco. His undergraduate studies in theory, ear training, and counterpoint with Robert Levin at SUNY Purchase are in the lineage of Nadia Boulanger. He has prepared choirs for several prominent conductors including John Nelson, Yoel Levi, David Stahl, and Sir David Willcocks, and in the early 1990’s he was an assistant conductor to Robert Shaw and the Grammy © Award winning Atlanta Symphony Chorus. He worked in close collaboration with Maestro Shaw for three years, rehearsing the Chorus in works as diverse as Mahler Symphony #2, #3, and #8; Berlioz Romeo et Juliette; Janáček Glagolitic Mass, Verdi Quattro Pezzi Sacri, and the annual Christmas with Robert Shaw concerts. Calabrese was also the conductor of the Charleston Symphony Chorus in the 1995-96 season, leading the orchestra in its children's concerts ("Cushion Concerts") and for the annual Christmas Concerts in the historic Gaillard Center.
While in Atlanta, Calabrese also founded The Britten Choir, a professional chamber choir that performed an eclectic repertoire for enthusiastic audiences in the region and sang at the 1996 ACDA regional convention in Norfolk, VA. Their 1995 recording, Magnifical and Mighty, received rave reviews from composer Ned Rorem ("Your performance of the Madrigals is supple, intelligent, caring, and tonally lovely.I couldn't be happier"). Fanfare Magazine stated that The Britten Choir "compares favorably with The Sixteen and The Finzi Choir." LISTEN
Their recording of Britten's Rejoice in the Lamb has been heard frequently on NPR's Performance Today.
Possessing an affinity for compositions from the choral/orchestral canon, his repertoire includes, among others, major works of Bach, Brahms, Britten, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Schubert, Handel, Haydn, Stravinsky, Fauré, Duruflé, Poulenc, and Pärt, and well over 500 smaller pieces for choir alone. In 2007 he led performances of I Pagliacci and Cavalleria Rusticana for the Atlantic Coast Opera Company. His orchestral repertoire includes symphonies and concerti of Beethoven, Mozart, Dvorak, Poulenc, and Britten, among others.
He has been a guest conductor and clinician in America and abroad, and is an active composer, focusing on writing music for liturgical use. In 2013 and 2019 Calabrese was in residence at the Conservatoire de Versailles, Gran Parc and guest conductor of the l’Ensemble Polyphonique de Versailles.. Calabrese has conducted youth and high school All-State and regional choirs in North Carolina, Georgia, New Hampshire, and Texas, and is a national conductor for the American Federation Pueri Cantores youth choirs. He is a regular contributor and commentator on the national music scene in America, where he writes for the website Corpus Christi Watershed. His research on the music of Benjamin Britten is housed in the Britten-Pears Library in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, England. Alfred Calabrese resides in Dallas, TX with his wife Cynthia. They have two adult children and one grandson.